I Grew Up Not Knowing Half of My Family

I Grew Up Not Knowing Half of My Family

I know who you are, do you know who I am?

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Before I was born, my dad was disowned by his mother as an adult. Because of this, I grew up only knowing my mom's side of the family. While all of my other friends and peers discussed which set of grandparents they were going to see on Thanksgiving or how many Christmases they had to attend, I only ever had one of each.

When I was in high school, I remember doing a family tree in Spanish class. I remember I could write down every single person on my mom's side without hesitation, but when I got to my dad's side, I just put a question mark because I had no idea who was in his side of the family. I remember being curious all day that day and coming home from school finally asking questions about my unknown family members. My parents explained what happened to our family: years before I was born, my dad wouldn't do something for my grandmother, so she essentially disowned him and even though I knew in my heart that it wasn't my fault (I mean I didn't even exist yet, how could it be my fault?), I subconsciously blamed myself for years for my broken family. I found myself going above and beyond trying to get their attention, looking high and low for years wanting them to get to know me. I realized much later on through therapy that it was never my fault, but it was hard not to blame myself because I felt so abandoned.

It was all unsuccessful.

I never got to know the ones who disowned me before I was born. I found their homes and tried ringing doorbells with no answer for several years. I sent letters, emails, and Facebook messages from high school through college, until my sophomore year of college. I found out during the spring semester of my sophomore year of college that my grandmother on my dad's side had died, leaving this blank hole in me that I was afraid would never be filled.

I was wrong, it made me stronger and opened up relationships between me and new family members from my dad's side that I had only dreamed of meeting one day. Most of all, it made realize how grateful I am for the family members I do know and have always been in my life.

When I started searching for my dad's family, I put so much value on those relatives that I didn't know instead of valuing the ones who have been by me since birth, like the grandparents I have who raised not just my mom but me too, not the grandmother who didn't want to even open a door for me. I learned through my journey how incredibly thankful I am for such loving family members who have stuck with me through thick and thin rather than just giving up on me when times get tough. Most of all, I am thankful for the support my family has given me throughout this journey.

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Reconnecting With Family Can Change Your Life

That girl up there? She's my cousin. We didn't talk for five years, but when we finally did... well, we became closer as family and blossomed as friends.

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Being a part of a family is weird. There's no telling who all knows the little secret you've been trying to keep, and a lot of times someone has already told your mom what you've said about so and so. It's a big mess of people who are too nosy for their own good but do it for the sake of those around them. The love within a family causes us to be overprotective, overwhelming, and sometimes tears us apart.

In my seventh grade year - about 2011 - my Grandmother fell ill. It was a twisting, turning diagnosis of different things and as soon as she seemed better something else happened. It was a dangerous time and it tested the family. By the time of her death tensions were already somewhat high, and after the funeral, the family ties fell apart.

My cousin and I were both coping in angry ways - this led us to stop speaking. Years of silence went by, spent wondering where it went wrong, why our family wasn't what it used to be. It was a disappointing time and one that fluttered up from the back of my mind quite often. I kept getting angry at the whole situation and placed blame and anger in places it didn't belong. Somewhere along the way though, something changed.

When my cousin's senior year rolled around, her mother and mine were talking again and they made a visit to my house. My stomach was clenched and I was nervous about all the time spent apart, but when we got to talking - it was fine and normal. We kept talking, I went with her for senior pictures, we exchanged phone numbers and just hit it off. Suddenly I had a cousin again. We caught up on life and drama, the ups and downs encountered during our years of silence.

Since we reconnected a strong friendship has grown between us. I can proudly say we have no hard feelings about our time of silence, just feelings of regret that we wasted so much time. So now, we talk often, visit when we can, and laugh without holding back.

Much love to you Tabatha Elaine.

Image may contain: Holly Hayes and Tabatha Elaine Lewis, people smiling, people standing

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